Anyone ever go to church camp as a teen? Did you wonder why the appliances in the kitchen were old and barely working? Did you wonder why the dorms and other buildings were crooked and airy with holes, allowing small critters to come in at night and take up residence over the winter? Randy and I remember a ravine in the back of our church camp property where old appliances were dumped that just would work any longer. It was quite a graveyard. How did this happen? Why did this happen?
People gave their leftovers to the work of salvation, changing the spiritual address of youth and young adults forever while helping them develop the most important relationship they will every have in their lives…an intimate, growing relationship with Jesus Christ! Even when we were young, Randy and I wondered why people gave broken down appliances to camp instead of investing in what worked. In some cases, old stoves were a safety hazard!
What about our thinking back then (and now) about giving to those on mission fields. Do we take or send new items or that which we have discarded? I know a true story of a church who saved their USED tea bags then sent them to missionaries as a “gift”.
Do we give all or our leftovers? What about those in our own communities? New or used from our own surplus? Jesus notices these differing attitudes in the Temple. He sees a widow who embraces giving in the way that pleases God and points her out to his disciples and others around him. She gave all and she gave quietly.
Luke 21, New Living Translation
21 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
Jesus and his followers have arrived in Jerusalem. The work will go on until Jesus finishes the mission God sent Him to complete. The disciples are in awe of the beautiful structure around them. They do not see what Jesus sees. They do not notice what Jesus observes. It all started with the arrival in the temple of a poor widow with an offering for the Lord. Compared to the gifts of the rich men, her two copper coins seemed insignificant, but Jesus said that she gave more than all the others combined. “The widow’s mite” does not represent the LEAST we can give, but the MOST, our very all.
When it comes to our giving of time and money, God sees more than the portion; He also sees the proportion. Men see what is given, but God sees what is left, and by that He measures the gift and the condition of our hearts. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” He may have learned that from Jesus (Luke 6:38) or perhaps from Paul (2 Cor. 8:1–15).
The temple was a beautiful structure, embellished with many costly decorations that a poor widow could never give, and the disciples mentioned this to Jesus. But our Lord was not impressed. He told them that the day would come when the beautiful Jewish temple would be demolished (Luke 21:5–6). He had already announced that the city would be destroyed (Luke 19:41–44), but now He specifically mentioned the destruction of the temple.
Jesus Speaks about the Future
5 Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, 6 “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”
8 He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.
20 “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. 22 For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. 23 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. 24 They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.
25 “And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
29 Then he gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. 30 When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. 38 The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear him.
MORE TO LEARN AND THINK ABOUT…(With the help of Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)
Jesus left the temple and went to the Mount of Olives, and there Peter, James, and John asked Him three questions: (1) When would the temple be destroyed? (2) What would be the sign of His coming? (3) What would be the sign of the end of the age?
The disciples thought that these three events would occur at the same time, but Jesus explained things differently. Actually, the temple would be destroyed first, and then there would be a long period of time before He would return and establish His kingdom on earth
Keep in mind that this was a message given to Jews by a Jew about the future of the Jewish nation. Though there are definite applications to God’s people today, the emphasis is on Jerusalem, the Jews, and the temple. Our Lord was not discussing His coming for the church, for that can occur at any time and no signs need precede it (1 Cor. 15:51–58; 1 Thess. 4:13–18).
Remember, the things Jesus described here are not signs of His soon return, because they have been going on for centuries. However, as the coming of the Lord draws near, these things will multiply and intensify. No matter what our views may be of the coming of the Lord, we all need to heed His three admonitions: “Don’t be deceived! Don’t be afraid! Don’t worry!”
If believers during that difficult age will be tempted to yield to the world and the flesh, Christians in this present age of comfort and affluence must face even greater dangers. We today do not know when our Lord will return, and it behooves us to be faithful and to be ready.
“I’m not looking for signs,” said the late Vance Havner; “I’m listening for a sound.” The sound of the trumpet! The shout of the archangel!
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me Jesus take me now
All to Thee my blessed Savior
Make me Savior wholly Thine
Let me feel the Holy Spirit
Truly know that Thou art mine
All to Jesus I surrender…